Planning & Design
What Is Planning?
A planning is a schedule of activities placed in time. Planning involves scheduling your activities in time in order to manage, adjust and adapt activities that need to be carried out during a project. You have for instance Network planning, Timetable planning and ‘To-do lists’.
When and Why Planning?
Always… working with a good and flexible planning facilitates a design process (or any other process). Good planning is important when your task is complex and too large to get the overview in advance. Setting up a good planning can be difficult and complex, but investing time surely pays off when a project is completed. Especially when working in a team, planning is important in order to divide the activities within the team and to manage the cooperation of the team members.
How to Make a Planning?
Planning can be done either very extensively, planning all activities up front, or more flexibly by making little to-do lists at the beginning of a day. Different tools exist, which will support setting up complex and simple planning. Every planning starts with setting up clear goals of what needs to be obtained and the specific results that should be produced. After that you should define the design approach (which can be manifold, but is often prescribed by others). Then you should identify and schedule your activities in time. The real challenge lies in maintaining and managing a planning throughout the process of completing the activities.
- Study the project assignment carefully.
- Determine the end result and also the intermediate results.
- Think about how your final result will look. Will it be a physical product, or a digital one? Will it involve a service?
- Think about what shape it will be.
- Think about the quality of the final and intermediate results.
- Think about the intermediate results you need to show during your project. What is expected of you? What do you need to present at intermediate presentations?
- Determine the form of the end result (determine the deliverables)
- Write down what you will deliver (make a statement about the deliverables) and in what form.
- Will you end up with a bunch of drawings, or with a complete report?
- Will you deliver a prototype?
- Will you communicate by means of a presentation, a poster or a film? (this depends on the availability of time)
- Determine the activities (Plan of Action)
- Think about the activities you need to set up in order to come to the intermediate and final results defined earlier.
- Describe these activities on different levels of abstraction.
- Plan the activities in time
- Schedule your activities in time. Make sure that you take into account the intermediate results, and plan for contingencies.
- Identify important milestones in your planning
- Identify when you need to have completed certain aspects in order to complete your (intermediate) results in time.
- Determine and identify interdependencies between your activities
- Identify what activities are related to each other and need to be carried out in sequence. Other activities can be done in parallel.
- Manage and safeguard your planning
- During your project, manage your planning by checking your schedule with reality on a regular basis. Check whether you are still on time. Check whether activities are completed on the desired level.
For the planning of the end results and intermediate results you can use the SMART method:
- S - specific: The desired results should be formulated specifically, instead of making a general statement (e.g. ‘I will design something to give users x the opportunity to y’ instead of ‘I want to make a better world’).
- M - measurable: The results should be formulated in such a way that it is possible to measure whether they have been completed (‘I will produce at least 5 ideas’ instead of ‘I will produce several ideas’).
- A - acceptable: Be sure that there is consensus (among the members of your team or with your tutor) on what the results involve or try to accomplish.
- R - realistic: Results should be feasible; they can be completed within the scope of the project (if you do not have experience, ask for support!).
- T - in time: It should be clear when (day, hour) the results will be completed.
Tips and Concerns
- Working in groups: make your planning visual, plan your meetings.
- Regularly, be clear about responsibilities (who is responsible for what?!).
- Refine your planning on a daily or weekly basis.
- A planning is not strict or rigid. We recommend you set up a planning at different levels of abstraction: first you start with an abstract planning of large-scale activities; second you break down the large activities into smaller ones; third, on a weekly (or daily) basis you write down a ‘to-do list’, based on the first two steps.
References and Further Reading
- Smulders, F., Brehmer, M., & van der Meer, H., (2009) TeamWorks: Help Yourself, By students for students. Mosaics Business Publishers and Delft University of Technology.
- Chapter 4, H2 get organised through planning.